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How to Read Your Cat's Tail Language

How to Read Your Cat's Tail Language

Similar to people, cats have unique personalities and maybe even some quirky mannerisms. That said, a cat's tail has a language all its own. Our vets in  Everett can provide some insights on cat tail movement. 

Cat Tail Meanings

While dogs are famous for happily wagging their tails and using these appendages to convey their emotions, cats also move their tails as a way to communicate their thoughts and feelings to their people and other animals. Almost every cat parent will attest that their cat has their own unique personality and mannerisms. 

That's also true when it comes to their tail, as there are some basic tail movements that housecats will often rely on. Some of the most common cat tail movements and their meanings are listed below.

Tail Straight Up (With or Without a Curl at the Top)

Does your kitty walk around the house with their tail straight up? You can bet they're feeling relaxed, confident and content. If you see your cat doing this, it's a good time to take the opportunity for some fun playtime, offer them a treat or reach out for a pet. 

Tail Straight Down

Uh oh. If your cat's tail is straight down, they are probably not looking very pleased with the world. This tail straight down language points to your cat feeling angry, anxious, agitated or frightened. Until the mood passes, it's a good idea to leave your kitty alone. Alternatively, if there's an obvious reason why your cat might be feeling this way, try to neutralize the situation. 

Wrapping Their Tail Around You

This is a cat's way of giving a hug or warm greeting. Time to spend some quality time with your feline friend, curled up on the sofa together, playing, or just enjoying a few pets. 

The End of Your Cat's Tail is Twitching

When the end of your cat's tail is twitching this is likely to be a sign that they are hunting, playing or feeling a little irritated about something. If they are looking at you and doing this with their tail, it may be a good time to dangle or throw their favorite cat toy so that they can engage in some fun playtime with you. If they aren't in the mood to play, rest assured that your cat will let you know. 

Tail Swishing from Side to Side

A swishing tail and unflinching gaze are good signs that your kitty is in predator mode and has spotted something they are preparing to pounce on. This can happen even if the prey is on the other side of a sturdy glass window. Leave your cat to imagine their award-winning hunting moment, or if the prey is your pet hamster it may be time to move your pocket pet's cage to a safer location.

Thrashing Tail Movements

Is your cat thrashing their tail on the ground so that you can actually hear it? This means that your cat is angry and they want you to stay away. It may be best to give your cat some time to cool down before you decide to approach them.

Puffed Up Tail

A puffed-up tail is a very clear sign that your cat is frightened and perceives that there is a severe threat. This behavior is believed to be the cat's attempt at looking as big as possible to any prospective predator and is typically accompanied by a high arched back and hissing (think Halloween cat). Whenever a cat does this it's best to stay out of their way as they calm down.

Tail Tucked Between Legs

If your cat's tail is tucked between their legs they are scared, possibly experiencing pain, or being submissive. Try giving your cat a little time to relax and calm down, if their tail remains between their legs it's time to contact your vet, who can perform a wellness exam to see if there may be health issues that need attention.

Why do cats wag their tails?

Cats can wag their tails when they're feeling happy just like dogs, though they do not have the exact same enthusiastically happy tail wag dogs are well known for. 

This is more of a soft wag. You might also see a slight curve to the tip of your kitty's tail and is a way to show you that she's content and happy.

If they are playing, your cat might wag their tail more energetically, swishing it from side to side - think of times you've seen your cat chasing their favorite toy or having a friendly play fight with another feline. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have questions about your cat's health or mannerisms? Contact us. Our vets in Everett, WA can examine your cat and answer any questions you may have about caring for it. 

New Patients Always Welcome!

Looking for a vet in Everett? Whether your pet needs routine wellness exams, surgery, geriatric care or emergency care, we look forward to welcoming you to our family at Broadway Animal Hospital located in Everett. 

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